2015 is going down as a year filled with box office bombs. The summer blockbuster season was pock-marked by films like Tomorrowland and Terminator: Genysis losing tens of millions of dollars, and was emphasized by the massive financial and box office failure of Fantastic Four. Yet even now, as the more buzz-worthy, meaty films are beginning to roll out, we are being inundated with some of the worst films Hollywood has to offer on a weekly basis. Over the past 4 weeks, I have reviewed a string of films that made me question what we should be expecting from Hollywood studios.
One of the hallmarks of these horrendous films has been lazy scripts. I previously reviewed The Last Witch Hunter, which seemed to fill it's obvious storyline gaps with "Because, magic". But films such as Rock The Kasbah, Our Brand Is Crisis, and Jem & The Holograms have highlighted the lazy writing which no actor or director could get past. Week after week I have been left staring at the screen, wondering why none of the characters in these films felt real in any way. It worries me that character development has become the first shortcut to take for most of these.
Another frightening issue with films such as Pan and the aforementioned Last Witch Hunter has been subpar visual effects. Not just subpar, but appallingly bad. Like 1990's bad. In our day and age, when every movie has a visual effects budget, for a movie that is centered on CGI elements to fail horribly in that arena is unacceptable. The effects in Pan were laughably bad throughout most of it, to pair up with a confused script.
A lot has been made about the lack of original ideas in Hollywood recently. When you look at the films that are heaped with expectations to carry studios, you see a lot of sequels and remakes. And now with the odd trend of making sequels to long dormant franchises, it only reinforces the stigma that Hollywood is out of ideas. So why not reward those who are coming up with original content? Rather than plopping bloated, lazy sequels to failing franchises (I'm looking at you Paranormal Activity) into theaters across the country, why not give a little more play to the films that offer originality?
One final thing that compounds the problem is the sheer volume of movies being churned out. In 2014, Hollywood studios set a record by releasing 702 films. That's right. 702 movies. And they made less money than the previous year when there were fewer movies released. As recently as 2010, there were only 536 movies produced. So have we gotten 166 more quality films? Have we gotten any more quality films? Do we really need 4 or 5 new movies clogging up screens to nearly empty houses? I am getting tired of having to watch a d review multiple 1 star films a week as I await truly interesting movies to slowly make their way into more than 30 theaters. Like it or not, but consumers have more choices than ever these days about where to spend their entertainment dollars and time. Between the quality of television these days and the revolution that Netflix and others have made in our viewing habits, movie studios have never had more of a fight for the public's money. And so it is, when you charge the prices that most theaters charge for a night out, and the film you see is an unfinished product, it's natural for people to shy away from the movies.
So what am I getting at? Am I just here to complain about some bad movies coming out? No. I'm telling you that we, as movie audiences, must demand better quality. The one reassuring thing I've been noticing this year is a trend of bad movies not being rewarded with big box office numbers for the most part. There have been some pretty abysmal weeks at the box office recently, as the general public has turned their back on most of these mediocre films. But what I'm calling for isn't to avoid going to the movies. I'm saying reward the ones that put the effort out. Go find the smaller films that maybe don't star a former teen heartthrob. Reward quality, original filmmaking with your support, and hopefully the message will be received. If enough weeks go by where the films featuring one big star to put on the poster and a garbage script around them fail, maybe there will be an awakening.
Jamison Rabbitt reviews movies for the show Reel Reviews @reelreviewstv as well as through several podcasts. Follow and find everything from him @americascohost on Twitter.